06MOSCOW6575, NEW TRIAL ORDERED FOR SYNAGOGUE ATTACKER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW6575 2006-06-21 14:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6329
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #6575 1721443
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211443Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7896
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 006575 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/21/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KCRM RS
SUBJECT: NEW TRIAL ORDERED FOR SYNAGOGUE ATTACKER 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 152 
     B. MOSCOW 262 
     C. MOSCOW 4624 
 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kirk Augustine.  Reason 1.4 
 (b, d) 
 
1. (SBU) On June 20 the Russian Supreme Court ordered a new 
trial for Aleksandr Koptsev, who on March 27 had been 
convicted of knifing nine people in the Chabad synagogue in 
Moscow on January 11.  The trial court had sentenced Koptsev 
to thirteen years in prison on several counts of attempted 
murder motivated by national or religious hatred. 
 
2. (SBU) Both the prosecution and the defense appealed the 
verdict.  The defense sought to have Koptsev's sentence 
reduced based on his mental and physical condition, and 
because the sentence was longer than that received by other 
criminals who actually killed, and not only wounded, their 
victims.  The prosecution, backed by lawyers representing 
victims, wanted to have charges of inciting national or 
religious enmity (Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code) 
also brought against Koptsev.  The judge in the original 
trial had dismissed the Article 282 charges against Koptsev, 
but its June 20 decision the Supreme Court ruled in favor of 
the prosecution and the victims and ordered a new trial. 
 
3. (C) Many members of Jewish community and some in the human 
rights community had told us about their dismay at the March 
27 decision.  However, some experts on hate crimes believe 
that too much emphasis is placed on Article 282.  It is 
intended to fight racist propaganda while other articles of 
Russian law specifically address violence based on national 
or religious hatred (ref C). 
 
4. (C) Nevertheless some observers believe that the Supreme 
Court's decision to allow the Article 282 charges is an 
important step in fighting hate crimes.  In a June 21 meeting 
Rabbi Adolf Shayevich, Chief Rabbi of Russia, told visiting 
members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious 
Freedom that it was important that Koptsev be convicted on 
the right charges, including Article 282, even if he is 
sentenced to less time than in his original conviction. 
Earlier in the day, Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security 
Council Nikolay Spasskiy told members of the Commission, that 
the Supreme Court's decision demonstrated that Russia is 
serious about combating hate crimes. 
 
5. (C) Comment: It remains to be seen whether this latest 
move is a sign of increasing government willingness to 
seriously address the problem of hate crimes, or just an 
isolated development in a high-profile case.  Obviously the 
ordering of a re-trial opens up the possibility of a shorter 
sentence, or conceivably even an acquittal.  Koptsev's 
lawyers have indicated that they may press in the new 
proceedings for a trail by jury, with the hope that it might 
return a "softer" verdict. 
BURNS

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